Fiery Cross Reef: Why China's New South China Sea Airstrip Matters

Although China is not the first state to build an airstrip in the South China Sea, it is the first state to employ island-building technologies to transform a contested maritime feature into a military base that extends the reach of offensive military capabilities. Other countries have worked to project power to contested South China Sea features; with the airstrip on Fiery Cross Reef, China has worked to project power from them.

For context, Beijing’s efforts to militarize Fiery Cross Reef are only a small part of China’s massive and controversial program to create a “Great Wall of Sand” across the South China Sea – in the words of the previous Commander of Pacific Fleet.[READ MORE]